Saturday, June 25, 2011

Post-Marathon Mangüanga Is Over After Playing Rock & Roll

Mangüanga (Mahn-guahn-gah): In Venezuela, state of being lazy; doing easy things avoiding hard work.
I have been playing around, after my May 29th Idaho Marathon. Though I have continued doing speed work, I have run only twice a week and avoided long runs. Most of the weekends have been dedicated to short races: 5K, 10K & 12K.

As I am running Ragnar Relay at the end of July, I still need to do shorter runs closer in time to mimic the relay (3 runs in less than 24 hrs). I will still run some short races for that purpose during the weekends, but I am definitely increasing the mileage during the week and bringing back to my training the long runs: No question about it.

The Rock & Roll in Seattle was the run that closes my “playing period” and puts me back to marathon training schedule (though I am not final in which marathon I'll run this Fall).  I picked up my friend Emily and drove to North downtown to catch the shuttle from the Westin.  We got there around 5 am and there were tons of buses, so we didn't even have to wait a bit. When we got to Tukwila the lines for the porta-potty were already long (not such luck like the buses line) so we decided to start the process, and of course, repeat. We perused around, saw some of the Chuckit pacers and tried to find unsuccessfully my Sole Sisters.

Emily and I were together in corral 9. We discussed the respective strategies which were a PR for me working through heart rate, and a "doesn't know" for her. I told her to go and run her race without even thinking on waiting for me.

I got to recognize that I was lost the first 3 miles. I didn't have a clue where I was as it looked all industrial and blah. I have run in many new places consciously knowing that I don't know the place. But running in the greater Seattle and not knowing where I was, mentally bothered me. I was looking forward mile 3ish where I would be entering in familiar territory and climbing the first big hill of the race according to the course map. I climbed it without changing the pace, of course, increasing my HR, and I thought, wow, that hill didn't look that bad. The display of American flags along gorgeous Lake Washington, also displayed during the Seattle Marathon in November, was for me the highlight of the course. As during the November event, I touched every flag while I ran. It's just my need to honor the Ol' Glory and our fallen soldiers.

Everything was in perfect harmony for a PR, until I entered the tunnel at mile 9. Hundreds of runners inside a very long stuffy tunnel (0.8 miles). The air was stagnated and it was very difficult to breath. My pace dropped dramatically, and it took me a while to recover even after getting back to fresh air. At the end of the tunnel, when I saw the light, and could breathe again, I was able to recover and pick up the pace, but not fast enough to break my PR of 2:10:03. I clocked 2:10:58.

Post-Marathon Mangüanga Is Over After Playing Rock & Roll.  

With my good friend Emily who ran a fantastic 1:56. We had an awesome time together.
Went for a PR but couldn't get it. I was dead from mile 7 to the end of the tunnel at mile 9... hundreds of runners in that closed muggy environment killed me.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Happiness of Crossing Another Finish Line

We have had many chances to meet in the last four years as our work had put us in the same places: Washington, DC; SoCal; Seattle. However, it never happened at the same time. The time that Chris was coming to Seattle in July 2008, I had plans to take her running around our paradisiacal bodies of water, but I had an emergent trip to Huntsville, AL, one week before she arrived.

Now that she was going to Portland, OR, and an inaugural Vancouver Marathon and Half was scheduled during her stay (Vancouver, WA, border with Portland), driving 200 miles was for me worth the effort.  Blogger friend Chris and myself had a wonderful weekend ahead of us to combine friendship, sharing, chatting, chatting, (did I mention chatting?), AND running a race together.

The first shared activity was going to the Expo for packet pick up. The highlight of the Expo was meeting Bart Yasso, an inspiration for all runners; a man that has raced more than 1,000 races and was inducted in 2007 into the Running USA Hall of Champions. We chatted with him for a while, not knowing who liked to talk more. We bought his book, “My Life on the Run”, he gave us his autograph, signed our bib numbers, and wished us the best.

Then we needed to fuel ourselves and headed for lunch at Mami Coll’s in one of the 600 truck courts that Portland offers. Owner Gerardo Coll offered us the Venezuelan main dish: Pabellon Criollo. It was simply delicious. I have eaten Pabellon in some places in the Pacific Northwest, but the recipe is modified somehow to the point that loses the traditional flavor. Mami Coll’s was authentic. The platter was very tasty, had a good size for normal people, and at an excellent price, but I would’ve/could’ve/should’ve eaten two of those. Reasons are that it was SO good AND that I don’t eat as “normal” people do. I eat a lot, and don’t get full easy. This time I controlled myself and regretted the whole afternoon for not having eaten a second platter. The “arroz con coco” (coconut rice pudding) was amazing, and, trust me, I am not a coconut fan, never been, but this was very good. Highly recommended.

On Sunday we left early to our race. Met with Bart again, and I was able to confirm what Amby Burfoot, American marathoner, and the winner of the 1968 Boston Marathon, had written in Bart’s book foreword: Bart remembers most of people's first names. AND IT'S TRUE: On race day, the first thing he said when he saw me was: Hi Lizzie!!! He knew my name the day before as he asked for it to sign a personalized autograph!!!

The race was fantastic; the weather was good, drizzling, and 60F totally overcast (though there were some sun breaks now and then, when we felt really warm). The course was very pretty, being my favorite parts running by Fort Vancouver and by MY River, the mighty Columbia. Chris and I chatted all along. We stopped to kinda “play” with rock bands; to chat with people; to take pictures; to dance at the rhythm of Caribbean music while a guy was playing timbales. Noteworthy to mention that this guy happens to live in Orlando (where Chris lives) and happened to live the first nine years of his life in Caracas (where I was born and raised)… Wasn’t that weird?

The time flew and there was the moment for the final sprint. Chris and I ended our race with that unique guaranteed feeling that all runners have experienced: The Happiness of Crossing Another Finish Line.

Chris and Bart
Pabellon Criollo at Mami Coll's Portland, OR
Mami Coll's, Portland, OR. Authentic Venezuelan Food

Sunday, June 12, 2011

So Hilly, That You Could See The Curves Of The Earth

After being in hell for 5 days (i.e. St. Louis, MO with temperature of 97F/36C), I was so happy to be back home where a lovely soft rain, overcast skies and the most delicious temperature of 54F/12C welcomed me.

As you can imagine I didn’t even try to run in St. Louis. Outside was impossible, and the gym was at 70 degrees, so the AC doesn't do anything and you feel like running at 90. In top of that, I was in a conference, and I had to catch up with work until late at night, ending my days absolutely tired.

But, the weekend ahead promised to be awesome with back to back races: A 12K on Saturday, and a 10K on Sunday. 

Saturday’s race was a fantastic and big race where I had the opportunity to meet some of my sole sisters (i.e. Ragnar Relay Team). The course was very hilly but beautiful, most of it through Point Defiance Park with the gorgeous sound at our sight. The temperature was not too bad, high 50’s, but to prevent Seattleites burned with “those high temperatures” the fire hydrants were open. Also some neighbors had their hoses with sprinklers for runners to run underneath. This must sound weird for people from out of town, but yes, it seems we can’t handle the heat caused by that temp !!!! Despite the hills, I did very good, clocking 1:11:35 for a 9:36 min/mile pace. We had a post-race lunch party with Narrows Bridge Running Club and we definitely had a great time.  Prizes drawn, socks, hats, and bib numbers for several Half Marathons. I won none…

On Sunday the race was a 10K along spectacular Lake Washington. There is nothing more beautiful than Seattle’s blue skies and lakes in a sunny day. So, 6.2 miles seeing plain beauty is worth the effort. I had no plans for the race due to being tired from the 12K, but the no-plan changed when the race started and I switched to a go-with-all. The first 2 miles were done at 9 min/mile. At mile 3, I was in 9:15 and my legs were feeling it. Then at mile 4 & 5 we had a couple of not-too-bad hills and I dropped the pace to 9:30, but when I ran by the mile 5 mark, I pushed it to 8:54 min/mile, to finish my race in 56:22 minutes, a PR by 1:41 minutes, for a pace of 9:05. Oh, this time I won a prize... A Coleman outdoor volleyball set!!!

I can’t believe that I could run a 10K PR a day after running a 12K on a hilly course. As the start line announcer said: So Hilly, That You Could See The Curves Of The Earth. 

Sole Sisters and Captain Tony Seabolt
Members of Sole Sisters - Ragnar Team
Our medals: A loaf of bread
Narrows Bridge Running Club
With Jess and Miguel Galeana
Tony Seabolt and M. Galeana drawing a number for a Race For A Soldier Bib #

I won a volleyball set !!! If you see me playing volleyball, you'll do nothing but laugh. I jump like a grasshopper all over the court
With my oncologist Dr. Rivkin... He is one of the reasons why I am alive!!!

With Judy and Owen

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Priceless Weekend Rewards

I am nothing but thankful for having the opportunity of marshaling runners in the Special Olympics of Washington, 2011 Summer Games. Boy, if it got busy. More than 2,500 athletes showed up for competition. I supported track & field events and it was an amazing experience. Hundreds of runners, race-walkers, shot putters, softball throwers, wheel chairs slalom. Every athlete showed one way or another their excitement for participating in the Games.

I encourage everybody to support as volunteer for these games or the Winter Games. I can't describe well enough the marvelous moments I had and the amazing opportunity talking with each of the athletes I marshaled. My heart was full of joy. You'll receive more than what you'll give.

My race of the week: Susan G. Komen, Race for the Cure. My prize: Being able to cross the finish line another year as a survivor and meeting my son Diego at the finish line. This year, the prize came with a bonus: I won my division!!!

Priceless Weekend Rewards !!! 

100-m dashers waiting for the heat call
100m dashers
100m dash
100 m dash

Fixing my timing chip

No, I am not Princess Leah
Crossing the finish line